That’s a difficult question to answer because I could answer 1 year or 4 years and both answers would be correct.
As I mentioned in my post on how Kristin and I met, I created myself a 5 year plan shortly before meeting her. Part of that plan was becoming a single mother. I wanted to become a single mother because I didn’t want to have to let someone else help me pick my child’s name. That’s right, it’s all about names and control. I was, by golly, going to name my daughter Dagmar* and my son Svend (after my grandfather and father). Plus, it seemed practical to make a plan to live out my dream of being a single mother since I had never had a monogamous relationship last longer than a weekend.
Then I met Kristin. I was very upfront with her about my desire to give birth to a child, and with the fact that I wanted a child sooner rather than later. She liked the idea of having children but wanted to adopt or foster rather than give birth. “Fine,” I said, “we can foster and adopt, and I will love all of them, but I still want to give birth. I want that experience for myself. If you’re not ok with that then this relationship will end when I get ready to bring a child into the world.” (I think I probably said that a little tearier and heated than it sounds right here) And she understood that I was serious, that no matter how much I loved her, no matter how much it would tear my heart out, that if she wasn’t going to be ok with having a child come through my body, then I would leave her. And then we stopped discussing it.
That doesn’t mean we stopped thinking about it, but rather that we both realized that we were neither of us in a position to have children right away so there was no point to argue. And besides, as long as we lived in Utah fostering or adopting was out of the question. After we had our commitment ceremony, we created a list of things we would need to accomplish before having a child. And then we put that list away. A year or so later when we finally pulled the list out to review it, we realized that not only had we accomplished everything on it, but that we were both pretty close to emotionally ready to welcome a child into our lives. A few months later we were both ready, so we pulled out a binder and started making plans. And I called my mother to give her the good news. She was not so excited. But I can understand. It doesn’t sound so exciting when you call her up and say, “Hey mom, Kristin and I have decided to start planning on trying to conceive a child. We’re thinking we’ll start trying in a year.”
And it was about a year. We made our decision to start actively planning in October, and we began TTC in June. We conceived in November. For posts about how Julia was conceived click here and then here.
We picked a known donor because of the fertility advantages of fresh sperm, but also because Kristin felt (and then she convinced me) that it was important for our child to be able to know his/her biological history. Not because we feel incomplete as parents, but because we wanted her to have more rather than less history and sense of place. Plus, Kristin and I wanted as much transparency about our process as possible and we wanted our child to know and love all parts of her family – chosen and biological. Finally, Kristin and I are strong believers in created family and a caring village. We tend to bring our close friends into our family circle, and so why wouldn’t we use one of those men already in our family circle to help bring another member into this life rather than going the expensive and (we felt) invasive route of frozen, anonymous?**
As it turns out, our donor ended up being someone we hadn’t met when we made the decision to use a known donor, but my god, he was/is the perfect addition to our family. He is Uncle Nyles. He is like a brother to us and he doesn’t try to be respectful of our position as Julia’s only parents, he just is respectful of our position. He is, in his mind and heart, only Julia’s loving uncle. We are definitely planning on using him again for a second child, and if, for some reason, he isn’t available, our hearts will break. Meeting him and getting to know him was like falling in love, or meeting a long-lost brother. He will always be in our lives, not only for Julia’s sake, but for our own.
*I do still have some regret that Julia was not named Dagmar. I LOVE that name. No one else loves it but I do. I would call her Mara for short. My mother told me that if I named a daughter that she would disown me. I also think the name Petra is very lovely and would love to name our second daughter that but I don’t think Kristin will agree.
** This is not to say that we think that using frozen is bad. There are many benefits to frozen, not the least of which is that you don't have to handle goop. Oh yeah, and all the fewer legal complications, those are important too. What I'm saying is that if you used frozen, please don't take what I said about our decision as a judgement on my part about your choice. I am absolutely certain that you made as right a choice about your family's creation as we made about ours.